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Full text of "Missouri Wildlife Harvest and Population Status Report, Wild Turkey 2007"

WILDLIFE HARVEST AND POPULATION STATUS REPORT 

WILD TURKEY - 2007 

Jeff Beringer 

Resource Scientist 

1110 South College Avenue 

Columbia, MO 65201 

573-882-9909 Ext. 3211 

jeff.beringer@mdc.mo.gov 



2006 Fall firearms turkey season 

The fall 2006 harvest was 1 1,927 birds (Table 1) with approximately 50% of the harvest 
composed of juveniles. This harvest was a 10.4% decrease compared to last year. Permit sales 
to residents were 23,141, a 10% decrease from last year. Nonresident permit sales were similar 
to last year. Historically, participation in the fall turkey season was tied to summer poult 
production; e.g., when production was up, permit sales increased. Permit sales may have 
decreased slightly as a result of free landowner permits. Also, the fact that youth deer and fall 
turkey seasons overlapped probably reduced harvest during the last weekend of fall turkey 
season. 

2007 Spring turkey season 

The 2007 spring turkey season harvest fell below the 50,000 mark for the first time since 
1998. The 2007 (including the 2-day youth season) spring harvest was 48,472 birds, down 11% 

1 



from the 2006 harvest (Table 2). It appears the 1 .2 poult to hen ratio recorded for 2005 was 
accurate and this poor hatch was reflected in a smaller number of 2 year-old birds available for 
harvest during 2007. Additionally we had a week-long period of below normal temperatures and 
this weather event may have changed the breeding chronology for turkeys. I received comments 
from across the state from hunters that had experienced difficult hunting conditions. One reason 
for the tough conditions may have been due to the lack of 2 year-old birds. I suspect most hens 
were laying but not yet incubating eggs when the cold weather occurred. We do not yet know 
the impact of temperatures (temps were 17° F during some evenings in Boone County) on 
nesting and egg survival but published reports indicated that goose eggs will freeze and die at 
these temperatures. Turkey eggs are typically covered and on-the-ground so may be able to 
withstand colder temperatures. Juveniles comprised 22% of the 2007 harvest reflecting the 
below average hatch in 2006. 

Total permit sales for spring turkey hunting were 1 15,897. Overall 161,723 permits were 
distributed including 45,826 landowner permits. Previously we did not require landowners to 
purchase or obtain a permit and therefore landowner numbers were unknown. During spring of 
2007 about 10% of landowners also purchased a statewide spring turkey permit. Therefore our 
estimated number of turkey hunters (including landowners) is 157,000 (Table 2). The number of 
nonresident turkey hunting permits issued was 8,988, a decrease from 10,158 that were sold in 
2006. Nonresident spring turkey permit prices were increased from $145 to $175 in 2007 and 
this likely resulted in fewer permits sold.. 

Top harvest counties in 2007 were Franklin, with 880 turkeys checked, Texas with 791 
and Callaway with 734. Regional harvest totals were: central, 6,904; northeast, 6,612; northwest, 



6,602, southwest, 6,163; Kansas City, 5,654; Ozark, 5,470; southeast, 4,121; and St. Louis, 

3,423. 

2007 Brood survey 

The 2007 statewide poult to hen ratio was 1.0 poults per hen (Figure 1). This ratio is less 
than half of the 47-year average of 2.4 poults per hen and well below the previous 10-year 
average of 1 .9 poults per hen (Figure 2). I have received numerous inquiries from the public 
and agency personnel regarding the lack of poults observed this summer. Our brood survey 
cooperator data have strengthened the speculations of a poor hatch and suggest most successful 
broods were very late hatches or re-nests. The 1 .0 poult to hen ration recorded this year is the 2 n 
lowest recorded. The lowest ratio occurred in 1961 and was 0.8 poults per hen; in 2005 we 
recorded 1 .2 poults per hen. 

Variation among turkey production regions was evident in the 2007 poult to hen ratios 
(Figure 1) with better production in the eastern Ozarks likely resulting from the abundance of 
mast during 2006. Brood survey cooperators observed 13,959 gobblers and 20,649 hens during 
the 3 months; the sex ratio was 1 .5 hens per gobbler. 
Population status 

Since 1983, volunteer archers have recorded the number of wild turkeys, deer, and 
furbearers seen while bowhunting during October and November. On a statewide basis, the 
number of wild turkey sightings per 1,000 hours of bowhunting in 2006 was 542. This number 
is slightly above the previous 15-year average (511). We had good mast crop in south Missouri 
during fall of 2006 but mast was not abundant in our northern counties. Mast likely effects 
turkey use of open areas and movements rates and so impacts sighting rates by archers. 



Spring turkey harvest, age structure in the spring harvest, population indices, hunter 
success, and hunter opinions and attitudes provide the information needed to determine whether 
the quality of spring turkey hunting is being impacted. These variables are being monitored 
closely. 

Restoration 

During winter 2006-07 we released about 100 birds in the Bootheel Region of Missouri 
in an attempt to increase local populations. 

Regulation changes 

Our Conservation Commission approved an opening day formula change for the spring 
turkey season in 2007. Previously the opening day of spring turkey season was the Monday 
closest to 21 April. The new opening date formula is the 3 r Monday in April. The formula 
change was an attempt to balance hunter desires with the biology of turkey reproduction. The 3 r 
Monday formula resulted in our 2007 season opening earlier than any modern day season. 
Overall though the minor formula change will give us an earlier season opener during 8 years 
and a similar opening date as the previous formula during 12 of the next 20 years. Youth season 
will open earlier during 7 of the next 20 years. During 2 of the next 20 years the opening date of 
the youth season will occur on 3 1 March in order to avoid conflict with Easter. Our earlier 
opener did allow us to show our responsiveness to hunters and seemed to be favored by hunters, 
although the odd weather this past spring resulted in some complaints about the season being too 
early. 



Post spring season survey results - 2006 

Our 2007 post-season survey suggested hunter attitudes and practices have not 
dramatically changed and are in line with our evaluative criteria. Most hunters hunt private lands 
(74%) and have no or very little problem with interference (84%); our no interference goal is 
>65% of hunters reporting no or very little interference. Most (67%) hunters are satisfied with 
the current spring regulations, and 47% rated their past season as good or excellent, (our season 
satisfaction goal is 33% of hunters rating their season as good or excellent). Recent below 
average hatches, and/or late season openers, have resulted in an increased portion of hunters 
rating their spring season as poor (Figure 3). 

Gobbling activity is considered one of the most important factors impacting spring turkey 
hunt quality. Gobbling is dependent on weather, bird densities, age structure, and other factors; 
however, this can vary day-to-day and by location. We are attempting to monitor changes in 
hunters' perceptions of gobbling activity through our post season survey. In 2007, (2006 in 
parenthesis), 28% (30%) of hunters rated gobbling activity as good or excellent, 32% (32%) as 
fair, and 38% (37%) as poor. About 22% (23%) of hunters believed that gobbling activity, 
compared to the past 3 years, has remained constant while 9% (7 %) believe it has increased and 
54% (53%) believe it has decreased. More respondents reported decreased gobbling activity in 
2007 and this again is likely related to recent poor hatches and later opening dates. We will 
continue to monitor hunter perceptions of gobbling activity and how they relate to our gobbling 
study. 
Hunter recruitment and retention 



We recently completed an evaluation of Missouri turkey hunter recruitment and retention 
rates by following youth and adult turkey hunting cohorts from 1998 - 2006. The number of 
youths participating in the spring turkey season has increased every year up to 2004 (Figure 4) 
and appears to have leveled at around 19,000. From 1996 to 2004, the number of participants 
more than doubled. The greatest increase in the number of participants occurred in 2001 when a 
special season was created for youth hunters. During 2001, 4,544 new youth hunters purchased 
tags. Our analysis further indicated that more youths participated in 2001 and beyond than did 
before 2001. Youth permit sales this past spring were 19,284 prior to the end of spring turkey 
season. 

Overall retention numbers of youth turkey hunters seem to decline by about 20% per year 
(Figure 5). That is, about 80% of youths hunted at least one additional year; of those that 
participated at least once about 80% participated twice and so on. About 14% of the 1997 youth 
cohort participated in every season for the period from 1998-2006. About 40% of the 1998 
youth cohort participated in the 2006 season. 

The number of youth hunters participating in each subsequent year tends to decline about 
10-20% per year (Figure 5). That is, about 80-90% of youths who purchase a permit, hunt the 
following year. Thus, retention from year to year is fairly high for youth turkey hunters. 

Retention rates of adult spring turkey hunters are slightly higher than those for youth 
hunters (Figure 6). Overall about 90% of adult hunters will hunt the subsequent year for which 
they purchased a permit. During 2006, 55% of the 1998 adult cohort purchased a permit. About 
25% of adult hunters participated in all seasons during the study period. 



Turkey gobbling study 

We recruited 729 volunteers from around the state to participate in a 5 -year study 
designed to record gobbling chronology and weather factors that may affect gobbling rates. 
Study participants listened and counted gobbles for 20 minutes at least 2 times per week from 15 
March to 17 May 2007. Listening periods started 45 minutes prior to sunrise and lasted for 20 
minutes. During each listening session volunteers recorded the number of gobbles and 
individual gobblers they could hear as well as specific weather conditions. We set weather 
parameters to help volunteers decide on the best listening days. Data were input by volunteers to 
a link on MDC's website and were available to view by all participants. I am currently in the 
process of analyzing this past year's data. Some of the preliminary plots suggest that gobbling 
rates tended to peak around 15 April for all regions of the state during 2007 (Figures 7 and 8) 
and gobbling frequency was greater on private than on public lands (Figure 9). Weather 
variables that seemed to effect gobbling frequency were cloud cover (Figure 10), vapor pressure 
(Figure 1 1), and whether or not it rained the night before the listening date (Figure 12). 



TABLE 1. 



Fall firearms turkey season harvest and permit sales, 1986-2006. 



Year 


Fall Firearms 
Harvest 


% Change From 
Previous Year 


Fall Permit 
Sales 


% Change From 
Previous Year 


2006 


11,927 


-10 


23,141 


-10 


2005 


13,233 


+12 


25,805 


+ll e 


2004 


11,824 


+3 


23,215 


-21 


2003 


11,436 


-20 


28,108 


-10 


2002 


14,392 


+6 


31,329 


+ 1.2 


2001 


13,596 


+3 


30,949 


-3.2 


2000 


13,230 


-9.7 


31,968 


-2.0 


1999 


14,651 


-4.5 


32,606 


0.0 


1998 


15,343 


+29.3 


32,593 


-3.5 d 


1997 


11,866 


-10.2 


33,765 


-2.2 C 


1996 


13,207 


-4.8 


34,522 


+2.6 C 


1995 


13,866 


-30.2 


33,642 


-12.6 


1994 


19,869 


+46.4 


38,424 


+11.8 


1993 


13,569 


-20.4 


34,379 


-4.6 


1992 


17,061 


-13.8 


36,033 


-3.8 


1991 


19,788 


+23.6 


37,469 


+1.0 


1990 b 


16,015 


-27.6 


37,080 


-21.0 


1989 


22,131 


-4.1 


46,946 


-7.4 


1988 


23,080 


-18.0 


50,715 


-4.2 


1987 


28,139 


+33.9 


52,922 


+13.4 


1986 a 


21,019 


+72.6 


46,688 


+28.9 



a Bag limit was increased from 1 to 2 birds. 
Permit fee increase. 

c New permit types in 1996 and 1997 (all conservation and all hunting) that include fall firearms turkey hunting 
privileges make comparisons with other years less meaningful. Although permit sales went up in 1996 and 1997 
when compared with 1995, a higher proportion of permit buyers (those buying the all conservation and all hunting 
permit types) did not hunt. These permit types were eliminated in 1998. 
d All conservation and all hunting permit types eliminated. 

e In 2005, fall turkey regulations were liberalized to allow hunters to take both fall birds on the same day and season 
length was increased to 3 1 days. 



TABLE 2. Spring turkey season harvest and permit sales, 1985-2006. 



Year 


Spring 
Harvest 


% Change 

From Previous 

Year 


Percent 

Success b 


Spring 

Permit 

Sales 


% Change From 
Previous Year 


2007 


48,472 


-11 


29 


115,897 g 


+1.2 


2006 


54,712 


-5.2 


31 


114,529 g 


-4.8 


2005 


57,743 


-5.2 


35 


120,215 


-3.5 


2004 


60,744 


+3.9 


35 


124,533 


-4.2 


2003 


58,421 


+2.4 


38 


130,021 


+3.8 


2002 


57,034 


-1.3 


39 


125,157 


+6.3 


2001 


57,842 e 


+1.7 


37 


117,736 f 


+2.2 


2000 a 


56,841 


+13.0 


39 


115,190 f 


+3.8 


1999 a 


50,299 


+3.8 


37 


110,939 f 


+5.1 


1998 a 


48,462 


+45.9 


36 


105,518 


+5.6 


1997 


33,216 


-12.4 


27 


99,933 


+0.1 


1996 


37,708 


+0.3 


30 


99,879 


+0.5 


1995 


37,472 


-1.2 


31 


99,412 


+8.8 


1994 


37,721 


+9.8 


33 


90,810 


0.0 


1993 


34,354 


+4.0 


30 


89,899 


+0.1 


1992 


33,035 


+2.5 


30 


89,803 


+0.8 


1991 


32,237 


+7.3 


29 


89,077 


-3.3 


1990 c 


30,056 


-15.6 


27 


92,093 


-0.9 


1989 


35,618 


+7.3 


31 


92,901 


-1.5 


1988 


33,187 


-7.7 


29 


94,301 


+10.0 


1987 


35,951 


+16.1 


33 


85,723 


+9.9 


1986 


30,965 


+25.0 


31 


77,972 


+10.3 



a Three week season, 2 bird bag limit with only 1 the first week and only 1 per day 
Percent of permittees who hunted who killed at least 1 bird. 
c Permit fee increase. 

d Two week season, 2 bird bag limit, 1 bird per week 
Includes 2 day Youth-only spring season 

Includes Youth Deer and Turkey hunting permits issued by end of spring turkey season 

g Beginning in 2006, permit totals include landowner permits for resident and nonresidents, we estimate that 10% of 
landowners also purchase a statewide permit, total permits distributed in 2007 were 157,000. 




Missouri Turkey Production Regions 



Turkey Regions 

C_3 Lindley Breaks 
C_J> Mississippi Lowlands 
ifH Northeast 
1 Northwest 
_P Ozark Border 
C_^) Ozarks East 
CIj> Ozarks West 

C '_) Union Breaks 

C~!> West Praire 



i 






Lindley Breaks 0.9 

Mississippi Lowlands 1 . 1 

Northeast 0.8 

Northwest 0.9 

Ozark Border 1.1 



Ozarks East 1 .2 

Ozarks West 1.3 

Union Breaks 0.9 

West Prairie 0.7 

Statewide 1.0 



Sex ratio of adult birds observed was 1.5 hens per gobbler. 

Figure 1. Poulthen ratios for Missouri turkey production regions for 2007. 



10 



Statewide poult to hen ratios (x10) in Missouri since 1960 




1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 

Figure 2. Statewide poult to hen ratios in Missouri from 1960 to present. 



2000 



2010 



2020 



11 



Spring turkey season satisfaction 



% satisfaction 



35n 



30 
25 
20 
15 
10 
5 




■ Excellent 
nGood 

n Fair 

■ Poor 



1988 1994 2000 2005 2006 

Year 



Figure 3. Hunter satisfaction ratings for the 2006 spring turkey season in Missouri based on 
post season hunter surveys from 1988, 1994, 2000, 2005, and 2006. 

12 



Missouri Spring Turkey Permitees Youth and Adult 



150000 
140000 
130000 
120000 
110000 
100000 




a> 


90000 
80000 


b 
<x> 


70000 


a. 


60000 




50000 




40000 




30000 



20000 
10000 



1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 



2002 
Year 



2007 



2003 2004 2005 2006 
—♦—Permits sold 
— ■— Perm its sold for youth 
Adult Permits 



Figure 4. Permit sales to youth (< 15yrs) and adult turkey hunters in Missouri from 1997- 
2007. 



13 



Overall Retention Numbers for Spring Turkey 

Youth 



5000 

4000 
Number of 

Youth Hunting 3000 
in Additional 2000 

Year(s) 

1000 








2 ft A( W 



Jl 1 ffs 



123456789 
Additional Year(s) Same Youth Hunted 



Retention Numbers for Spring Turkey - Youth 



4,000 -, 3J2 7 

3,500 I 1 



Number of 3,000 

1997 Youth 2,500 

who Hunted in 2,000 

subsequent 1,500 

Year(s) 1,000 

500 





lTffir- 



2*5 



flmfV 




1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 
Turkey Permit Sales Year 



Figure 5. Retention numbers for youth (<15yrs) turkey hunters from 1997-2006 



14 



Overall Retention Numbers for Spring Turkey 

Adult 



70000 

60000 

Number of 50000 

Adults Hunting 40000 

in Additional 30000 

Year(s) 20000 J 

10000 






123456789 
Additional Year(s) Same Adults Hunted 



Retention Numbers for Spring Turkey - Adults 



60,000 

50,000 
Number of 

1997 Adults 40 ' 000 

who Hunted in 30,000 

subsequent 2Q QQQ 

10,000 




Year(s) 



ff 



A* 



lf<«HftS»* 



J J J J 

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 200b 2006 
Turkey Permit Sales Year 




Figure 6. Retention numbers for adult spring turkey hunters from 1997 - 2006. 



15 



Gobbling chronology by state region for 2007 



— 

.O 
O 
O) 

<D 
O) 

CO 

a— 

o> 

> 

< 




- Central 

- Kansas City 
Northeast 
Northwest 

-Ozark 

- Southeast 

- Southwest 
-St. Louis 



CD 
CD 
CM 



CO 



CD 
CD 
CvJ 

■? 
CM 

CO 



r-- 

CD 
CD 
CM 



CD 
CD 
CM 



CD 
CD 
CvJ 



CD 
CD 
CM 

CM 



CD 
CD 
CM 

OO 
CM 



CD 
CD 
CM 

LT3 



Listening start date 



Figure 7. Gobbling chronology for turkeys by state region in Missouri, 2007. 



16 



Gobbling chronology by North/South location for 2007 






a- 

a 

_a> 

-Q 
-Q 
O 
O) 



a> 

£ 

C 

a> 

O) 


3 




■ North of Hwy 36 
• South of 36, north of 144 
South of 144 



Study week start date 



Figure 8. Gobbling chronology for turkeys in Northern, Central, and Southern Missouri 
during 2007. 



17 




Ownership 

■ PRIVATE 
[H PUBLIC 



17-MAR- 24-MAR- 31 -MAR- 07-APR- 14-APR- 21 -APR- 28-APR- 05-MAY- 
2007 2007 2007 2007 2007 2007 2007 2007 

Week 



Figure 9. Gobbling rates by turkeys on public and private lands in Missouri during 2007. 



18 



Gobbling frequency as related to cloud cover 




□ Clear 

■ Partly Cloudy 

□ Mostly Cloudy 

□ Overcast 



# 






o 



^ 



/ 






# 






^ 



Figure 10. Gobbling frequency by turkeys in Missouri under clear, partly cloudy, mostly 
cloudy, and overcast conditions during 2007. 



19 



Gobbling frequency and vapor pressure 



300 




0.05 



0.1 



0.15 



0.2 



0.25 



0.3 



0.35 



0.4 



vapor pressure 



Figure 1 1 . Gobbling frequency by turkeys in Missouri and vapor pressure during 2007. 



20 



Gobbling rates and precipitation during previous 12 hours 



Annn 




tuuu 








^nn 








OJUU 
CO 






_ ouuu 
.a 

.a 






O) £ouu 
o 

>- 9nnn 












3 I JUU 

mnn 






^nn 










JUU 

0- 









NO 



YES 



Rain or no rain 



Figure 12. Gobbling rates on days without and with rain occurring during the previous 12 
hours in Missouri during 2007. 



21